Top arcade games from my youth: TRON

The arcades from the past were spots of great joy and it was a pretty wonderful time to be a kid. Arcade machines were practically brand new when I was in elementary school and to see new games be introduced throughout the 80's. It seemed like every time we went into the arcade there would be something new and exciting. Home consoles existed at the time but honestly, they could in no way compare to arcade machines which were far more powerful.

Every now and then a game would come by the was just a little bit better than the others and for me one of those games was TRON.

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For starters, the machine as simply eye-catching before you ever started to play it. The clever design with the lighting made it really stand out in the crowd, so to speak. Since arcades tended to be dimly lite by design for the most part back in the 80's, this was a very cool looking machine. It was also a little bit different than other games in that there were 2 controllers not for two players but for the various games that would take place. All of the events in the game were adaptations from the film, and some of them were tougher than others and it is a matter of opinion which you considered difficult.

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For me, the toughest of the 4 levels was the light cycles because the computer was far better and making pinpoint turns than you are going to be, especially if you are just a little kid like I was. Just like in the film your light cycle makes a wall behind you and if you or your enemy crash into either of them, you explode. The idea is to trap your opponent thereby making it necessary for them to eventually crash... which the computer excelled at filling in every available piece of real estate inside the box before crashing.


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The tanks section was probably my favorite of the bunch but it was difficult because you had to use the buttons to fire, the twisty know to rotate the turret, and the stick to drive the thing. This was pretty difficult to pull off all at once. On your first playthrough you are likely to only be facing one or maybe 2 tanks but later on you'll be facing a bunch at once.


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There was a very real technique to making it through the rotating tower and mostly it was timing your shots to clear a path and then just running through as fast as you could. Once again, this utilized all the available controls and therefore could throw you off. Any contact with any of the rotating rainbow bars resulted in a loss of a life.

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I don't really even know what to call this last one... the spider tower? These spiders would continually spawn and the idea was to get into the center there (where the arrows are pointing) before the timer ran out. Since games back in the early 80's were based on high scores and not completion, there was a real incentive to stick around on this level for as long as you could shooting the never-ending respawn of spiders.

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Unless you had already mastered all of the 4 stages the select screen was a bit of a grab bag because you don't know which "event" is behind each of the 4 selectable areas and you just had to guess. If you died in one of them it would remain in the same place.

Just like almost every game back in the 80's there was no final boss. Tron was just another one of those games that never ended and after you completed all 4 stages they just reset and were more difficult the 2nd, 3rd, 127th time through. It probably all seems a little bit silly these days but this game was astounding back in 1982 and was one of the more popular titles at the arcade and resulted in an estimated 30 to 45 million dollars in revenue for Bally-Midway. Not quite as popular as Pac Man but I'm sure they didn't scoff at the income!

Do you have any favorite arcade memories? I'd love to talk about them if you do!

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